Microsoft is putting Windows in the cloud. Windows 365 is a new service that allows businesses to access cloud computers anywhere, stream Windows 10 or Windows 11 with a web browser. While virtualization and remote computing have been around for more than a decade, Microsoft is betting on Windows 365 to provide cloud computing to businesses just as they move toward a combination of office and telecommuting.
Windows 365 works with any modern web browser or Microsoft Remote Desktop application, allowing users to use a cloud computer on multiple devices. “Windows 365 provides an immediate startup,” says Wangui McKelvey, CEO of Microsoft 365. With this instant access, employees can stream their Windows session with all of their same applications, tools, data, and settings on Macs, iPads, Linux machines, and Android devices. “You can continue right where you left off because the status of the Cloud PC stays the same even if you change the device,” McKelvey explains.
Windows 365 will not be available to businesses until it launches on August 2, and a monthly subscription fee per user. Microsoft won’t provide exact pricing information until after the service launches next month, but Windows 365 is designed for one-person businesses all the way to thousands of employees.
There are two versions of Windows 365: Business and Enterprise. Both run with Azure Virtual Desktop, and individual cloud computers can be configured with a single processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at the lowest level, up to eight processors, 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. . Microsoft offers 12 different configurations for both Windows 365 Business and Enterprise, and companies can scale processing power, so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Technically, Microsoft offers Windows in the cloud service is not much different from the myriad options that companies could already choose with virtualization right now. Microsoft has already provided similar technology with Azure Virtual Desktop, and Citrix has been providing cloud-based desktops for years. Microsoft is trying to make a difference in both ease of use and control. “Windows 365 really makes a huge difference for organizations that want to try virtualization for a variety of reasons but couldn’t – maybe it was too expensive, too complicated, or they didn’t have the in-house expertise to do it,” says McKelvey.
Companies can create cloud computers in minutes and distribute them to employees, avoiding the need for separate physical devices. It can be attractive to many companies that hire telecommuters or even temporary contract staff who need secure access to the company’s network. Because your entire Windows computer is in the cloud, employees don’t have to navigate VPNs or worry about the security of their personal devices.
While Windows 365 seems to be fully timed for businesses looking to address the complexities of telecommuting, Microsoft has been working on the service for years. The Microsoft operating system team had been working on a project codenamed “Arcadia,” a service that streams video games from the cloud. Arcadia has its roots in Microsoft’s protests Halo, which runs on Windows Phone in 2013. This early virtualization work eventually led to Windows 365 and focused on making it consumer-friendly.
“When we built this team, we brought in a couple of executives with experience in virtualization, but for the most part we included people with experience in Windows and experience in consumer experience because that was the bar you wanted,” says Scott Manchester, Windows 365 Program Management .
The pandemic accelerated Windows 365 work and Microsoft focused more broadly on hybrid work. Microsoft has continually improved Microsoft Teams over the past year and set its vision the future of meetings, telecommuting and more.
Although Windows 365 is currently only for businesses, it’s easy to imagine a future where Microsoft could provide more efficient computing for consumers directly in the browser. A startup called Mighty offers a $ 30 per month cloud-based browser, designed to provide a better networking experience on older laptops and PCs. Windows 365 may just be the first major step toward a future where you don’t need a dedicated Windows computer to run Windows.